Sussex’s battered troops had to contend with a testing morning on the opening day of their vital County Championship clash with Northamptonshire at Hove.

A team missing seven players due to either injury or international commitments battled their way to 87-2 at lunch after being put into bat on a lively wicket.

Sussex’s hopes of a first win in nine games suffered a blow before the game began with Rory Hamilton-Brown, Matt Machan and James Anyon all failing late fitness tests.

Steff Piolet and Ashar Zaidi came in to replace Hamilton-Brown (wrist) and Machan (finger) while Matt Hobden was drafted in to fill Anyon’s place having not even been named in the original 13-man squad.

Sussex had prepared a fast wicket with plenty of bounce for a game they knew they needed to win to ease their relegation fears against bottom of the table Northants.

Skipper Steve Peters had no hesitation in electing to bowl first after winning the toss and opening bowlers David Willey and Stephen Crook soon had Chris Nash and Luke Wells hopping around.

Nash was put down on one by Richard Kettleborough off the bowling of Willey but it did not turn out to be a costly reprieve.

Willey then struck Nash on the helmet with a ball that lifted off a length and after receiving lengthy treatment the Sussex vice-captain clipped a simple catch to Kettleborough at short mid-wicket.

Captain Ed Joyce came in at No.3 due to the absence of both Mike Yardy and Hamilton-Brown and together with Wells put on 55.

Wells also had to receive treatment for a side strain which has suffered in the defeat at Taunton last month and was bowled for 26 shortly afterwards by a ball from Andrew Hall which kept a bit low.

The fact Piolet came in at No.4 to highlighted the extent of the injury crisis at Sussex but together with Joyce they got through to lunch without any further damage with Joyce unbeaten on 29 and Piolet 9.